Thursday, May 07, 2009
a belly full of Chicago.
Ken and I headed to Chicago with our friends Jill & Tony this past weekend, and it was a nice break from our usual routine. Ken and Tony had tickets to see a huge, two day show, which left Jill and I free to roam about the city. While we had great fun and noshed on lots of vegan foods, I'm sorry to say that I didn't get pictures of everything we ate. What kind of food blogger am I?! Geez! Also, we were kind of limited to a few restaurant choices that were near the venue. Luckily, there was plenty of vegan food on North Clark Street. Let's take a little food tour, shall we?
Vegan French Toast at Pick Me Up Cafe. Holy shit. Would you just look at that plate of bread? It's an entire loaf's worth of fried, sweetened, vegan goodness. Ken got this for breakfast one morning, but of course we shared.
That same morning, I had Tofu Benedict. This was a great dish, smothered with various veggies and some kind of tasty cheezy sauce.
We went to Pick Me Up Cafe a total of three times in two days, partially because it was awesome and mostly because it was on the same street as the venue. Jill and I went back on Saturday afternoon for salads and Teese Fries.
Speaking of Teese Fries, let me just mention how well Chicago Soy Dairy has to saturated that city with their vegan cheese and ice cream. Seriously, everywhere we turned it was milkshakes, pizza, hot dog toppings, etc. And most of these restaurants are not exclusively vegetarian, but they have more vegan options thanks to the CSD guys. It's really amazing and wonderful! Atlanta needs to get on the ball with more vegan options, for real.
Er, where was I? Saturday. We also took a trip on the El to a suburb (I think it's a suburb..) of Chicago to visit an all vegan store called Ethical Planet.
Ethical Planet is a really cute general store tucked into an equally cute part of town called Evanston. The owner, Fran, was super nice and down to earth. We picked up a few chocolate treats, and Jill bought a veg-themed children's book. I have promised myself to support vegan businesses when I travel (and any other time) as much as I possibly can, because it directly helps the vegan community. Since I'm a vegan business owner myself, I know that this is extremely important. If you're vegan, please do me a solid and support your local vegan businesses! Thanks!
Okay, more food. When Chicago comes up in conversation, one restaurant that almost every vegan mentions is Chicago Diner.
Full disclosure here: at this part of the evening, my stomach was kind of wrecked from walking 100 miles and eating Teese Fries, so I didn't eat much at Chicago Diner. Keep this in mind as you read my thoughts on this vegetarian joint.
First I'll mention the good stuff: the service we received at Chicago Diner was stellar, which was especially impressive considering how freakin' packed the place was when we were there. We arrived close to closing time, and everyone was super nice and attentive. They even gave us little cups filled with cake samples when we sat down. The cake sample was mighty delicious, too. All I ordered was a smoothie, which was perfectly fine. Ken ordered a vegan chicken parm dish, which looked really uninspired. He said it was "just okay", but he ate it anyway since has was starving from hanging out at his testosterone fest all afternoon. Tony liked his dinner pretty well, which was a sandwich of some sort. But really, I think the reason why people love Chicago Diner so much is because of the milkshakes. And for good reason! Of course they use Chicago Soy Dairy Temptation ice cream as a base, then you pick your flavor.
Ken and I shared the best strawberry shake I've ever put in my mouth:
It was a real thing of beauty. J & T got some crazy awesome peanut butter chocolate shake, which we had a sip of. It was... Hm. There are no words. Just damn good, I guess.
Okay! Sunday! After another breakfast at Pick Me Up and walking back to the venue with the boys, Jill and I headed to a baseball game at Wrigley Field.
If you know me in real life, then you know this is weird. I don't know anything about any sport, especially baseball. But I'm always up for a new experience, especially when it involves mass hysteria. Mass hysteria is the best way I can explain all the blue and red clothing, yelling, and public drunkenness that was found on N. Clark Street. Complete strangers kept wanting to high five us just for walking by! Chicago sure loves baseball. And since Jill loves baseball too, she treated me to a game. It was pretty cool. She explained baseball stuff to me, and I saw a grand slam. Woo? Woo!
Sunday night (and also on Friday night) we ate at a place called Handlebar. I had a very decent vegan buffalo chicken wrap there, but I took no photos because it was too dark for photos. We ended up at Handlebar twice because it was open later than the other places we knew about. They had several decent vegan options, too. It saved us twice when most other veg restaurants had stopped serving for the night.
Monday was departure day, but we managed to work in some touristy stuff on the way to the airport. We stopped by Grant Park and Millennium Park for some photo ops.
Our last stop before the airport was a restaurant called Earwax. Delicious name, eh? I don't know if any restaurant should be named after body secretions. But. I did really like this place, despite the damn disgusting name. Earwax's decor was awfully cool- it had a Coney Island freak show flair to it.
I had some chamomile tea, and a huge sandwich with avocado, cucumbers, sunflower sprouts and some kind of vegan tomato-mayo spread. It was a very fine sammich.
Ken's plate of food looked really nasty to me, but actually tasted great. He got a vegan sloppy joe with fries.
...and then we flew home, yadda yadda. After all the excessive eating over the weekend, I feel like I need to eat detox food for a whole month. Salads, salads, salads.
Here's one last Chicago photo of Ken and I. He's so cute :)